1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Xenoblade - Get lost in its world., Dec 2 2012
Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars
This game took a while for me to warm up to. The controls were a little awkward at first and the character design is a little uninspired, but I gave this game a chance. I really wanted to like it.
And before I knew it, I had 40 hours of gameplay wracked up on it and I thought, "...Where did the time go?" It's so easy to lose yourself in the story and world. It's expansive, beautiful, and rewards you infinitely for exploring it. The story really takes its time, and that's a great thing.
To say it's vast is an understatement. It's enormous. It's also full of landmarks. Not only do you get rewarded in EXP for discovering new landmarks, they serve as waypoints for quick travel. Though the world is enormous, once you've uncovered sections of it, returning to points takes no time at all. Keep an eye out for secret landmarks as well, those not marked on a map until you're right on top of them.
What I really like about it is that it strikes such a great balance between open world gameplay and linear storytelling. There's a main story to follow, and I'll get to that in a bit, but there's never a rush. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of sidequests to do, each raising your affinity and recognition in a certain area. One of the major subplots involve rebuilding a colony that was destroyed by the Mechon - the game's major antagonists. This alone involves dozens of hours of finding building materials, recruiting villagers, and doing quests and errands for the rebuilding crew.
In ways, the story feels very post-apocalyptic. It's a world in which humans, or Homs as they're called, build colonies on the body of a sleeping titan out of scraps left behind by an ancient war. There's other species as well, some more mysterious than others. While the war with the Mechon is initially referred to as a past event, it becomes a very personal conflict for the main characters early in the game.
Shulk, the protagonist, begins to have visions of the near future, which drives him to change the tragedy he sees and create a different version of the future. What makes the story so compelling is that there is such a human aspect to it, with a heavy element of fate. He realizes that he can't always change the future, even if he sees it coming. He can influence the world around him, but in the end, people make their own choices, good or bad.
What is behind the visions? Where does the power behind the Monodo, the titular Xenoblade that Shulk wields, come from? What secrets does the past war with the Mechon hold?
It's very comparable to Final Fantasy 12 in terms of combining action RPG gameplay with traditional RPG active time battles. The frequency of your attacks is dependent on your character's agility, not how fast you push a button or the weapon you use. Skills are leveled up separately from your character's level and can be freely organized on your skillbar - though there isn't enough room for every skill on your bar, so you must choose wisely and adapt a skill set that suits your play style. Each character fits a class archtype - a tank, a healer, a mage, etc - and there is a little room for adaptation through the use of gem socketing. The gem socketing itself is very elaborate and becomes a huge part of your character build and strength later in the game. It involves crafting gems out of mined minerals and inserting them into sockets of your gear, raising your stat perimeters or giving you bonuses, such as a chance to inflict a negative status.
Shulk's visions that I mentioned early also occur in real-time in battles. Occasionally, he will get a glimpse of an enemy's attack seconds before it happens, giving you a small window of time to evade or counter, or warn an ally of their impending doom.
You can gain experience through questing, exploring, or old-fashioned grinding. Any three or a mixture thereof is a perfectly viable way to advance your characters. There's never a shortage of any of them.
The characters are interesting enough, but what really makes them stand out is your ability to shape the relationships and bonds you hold with them. For example, using characters together in battle increases their bond, as does timing attacks properly and encouraging your allies. They're also raised or lowered through "Heart-to-Heart" conversations, special events unlocked as your characters grow closer to each other. The relationships you have affect gameplay in various ways, such as increasing your skill at gem crafting (two characters with a strong bond will work harder together to make stronger gems). It affects battle as well, and stronger bonds allows you to allocate abilities learned by other characters. For example, a bond between Reyn, your tank, and Shulk would give you the option of allocating the ability to equip heavy armor on Shulk.
If you're looking for a great RPG for the Wii, you really can't go wrong with this one. It may be an acquired taste for some players, it was for me, but I can almost guarantee you that it will engross you in the end.